Live from Florida’s Lake Okeechobee

It’s something I’ve been planning for over the past couple of months: my trip to Lake Okeechobee, Fla. for my first FLW Tour bass tournament.
This week, I finally was able to get on the water to practice for the biggest tournament that I’ll have ever been involved in.
The FLW Tour features many of the top bass fishing pros from across the United States. A $4,000 entry fee for this event guarantees it is a competitive bunch.
This organization has strict rules, especially regarding pre-fishing. Tournament anglers, for instance, only are allowed three days on the water to practice for this tournament.
Prior to the three practice days, the lake is off-limits to tournament anglers for two weeks.
This is a pro-am style event so I will be partnered up with a different co-angler for each day of the tournament. A draw at the rules meeting the day before the tournament determines fishing partners.
I’m fishing as pro or boater, and am fishing for my own five fish. My co-angler, meanwhile, is fishing for their own five fish and fishing in their own tournament against all the other co-anglers.
The practice period has been okay for me. Lake Okeechobee is a huge body of water so having only three days to find fish for a tournament is not easy when you’ve never been on it before.
In general, this lake is hot right now and many consider it to be one of the top bass fisheries in the entire U.S. There are plenty of fish and a good shot at trophy fish in the five- to 10-pound range.
My strategy during practice has been to try to find some places where I can catch a limit, places where there are good numbers of fish, as well as spend some time looking for big fish spots.
I might not catch any giants on these numbers places, but it would be nice to get my five fish in the boat and then go searching for a big kicker fish.
If I were on Lake of the Woods or Rainy Lake, I would skip the going for a limit part and just go for big fish because I have so many spots and have confidence in what I’m doing.
But it really is important for me to get a limit each day of this event so I want to make sure I have some good numbers spots.
I’ve actually had pretty good luck finding some numbers of fish, and have two really good areas that seem to be holding big numbers of fish and maybe some big ones mixed in.
If they don’t leave, I should be able to get a limit pretty quick casting rattle baits and spinnerbaits. I’ve only caught a few fish from these places and left because I did not want to burn up too many fish.
Tomorrow morning (Feb. 9) when the tournament starts, I’ll be able to lean on these spots and really see what is there—hopefully more big fish than I’m expecting!
The bass down here are looking to spawn right now, so a lot of the big females are in shallow water waiting for the right time to drop their eggs.
Getting up in the heavy weeds and flipping in pockets and holes is a technique many of the top locals rely on for big fish. The only problem is that it is not a big numbers game.
Once I have my limit in the boat, I’ll move shallow and try to catch a couple of big fish.
My biggest bass during the practice was a six-pounder, which I would love to see on Thursday or Friday.
The format for this tournament is the entire field of 175-anglers fishes Day 1 and 2. The top 20 then fish on Day 3 and only the top 10 fish on Day 4.
The first-place prize is $100,000.
You can find the results online this weekend at flwoutdoors.com

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